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Bid to identify WWI nurses in newly colourised photographs

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English Heritage is trying to identify nurses who worked at a country home that was used as a hospital during World War I after adding colour to a series of old black and white photographs.

The body is now appealing to relatives of any nurses who worked at Wrest Park in Bedfordshire to come forward and help identify them from the period images.

“To see images in colour is to see the real people behind the photographs”

Marina Amaral

The nurses who worked at Wrest Park, which was the first country house to be converted into a wartime hospital, remained unseen until English Heritage called for assistance in their identification.

There are few records for the nurses who worked there during the war until it closed on 14 September 1916 after a fire.

The release of newly colourised photos of the nurses is hoped to spark new interest in the stories of the women through connecting the public to their ancestors.

The researchers at English Heritage are asking if the public can identify any of the nurses pictured in the photographs.

Andrew Hann, lead properties historian at English Heritage, said: “We are interested in the human stories that are hinted at from the photographic evidence we have.

“It would be wonderful if the public could help us identify these forgotten women,” he said.

Wrest Park was opened on 7 September 1914 after it was offered by its owner, Auberon Herbert, as a hospital for 150 to 200 wounded servicemen.

Subsequently, 24 nurses at a time worked at the hospital and were managed by his sister Nan Herbert.

Mr Hann said: “These women were the backbone of the hospital, and indeed the war effort, providing much needed treatment to the wounded, but also acting as a comfort to house soldiers traumatised by the horrors of war.

“They worked tirelessly and deserve to be known as individuals, just as the soldiers they cared for do,” he added.

He highlighted that the colourised photos were an attempt to grant the women their identities by revealing their humanity to the current generation.

The colourisation portrays these women as the multi-dimensional figures that they were, he said.

Digital colourist Marina Amaral said: “To see images in colour is to see the real people behind the photographs.

“Humans live in colour, and this helps us see people from a more personal perspective – they are no longer removed from reality, but real people with lives and purpose,” he said.

The photos of these women can be viewed at Wrest Park, located in Bedfordshire, throughout the month of September.

English Heritage researchers are still searching for information on the women and request that any information on the nurses be emailed to Wrest Park’s History Team via wresthistoryvolunteers@english-heritage.org.uk

English Heritage

Wrest Park

Source: English Heritage

Newly colourised images of nurses at Wrest Park during the First World War

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